Bullock County health ranking lowest in state

UNION SPRINGS, AL (WSFA) - From hundreds of miles away, Angela Russell at the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute broke the news via skype--Bullock County is battling some pretty big health issues.

"Health starts where you live, learn, work and play," says Russell through the computer screen.

She and a team of researchers studied specific categories to determine the county's health ranking.  Those categories included, but weren't limited to premature death, low birthweight, obesity, high school graduation rates, poverty stricken children, sexually transmitted diseases, teen birth rate, unemployment, air quality and access to healthy foods.

She found 38% of Bullock County adults are obese.  89 out of every 1,000 teenage girls get pregnant.  Nearly 14% of babies are born underweight.  And nearly 40% of children live in poverty.

Statistics like these put Bullock County 67th--dead last among Alabama counties.

"When you realize the certain exposure we have to certain eating styles and lifestyles, it may not surprise us," says Bullock County resident, Bessie Huffman.

While the news isn't encouraging, Huffman's using it as a call to action.

"If we want to improve our children's lives, our grandchildren, then we have to start somewhere, and that report is going to make us want to start," she adds.

Teenagers like Akea Huffman were most discouraged by the STD and teen pregnancy rates.

"I'm going to try to stress this information with my peers, not only with peers at school but with the community, too," she says.

According to the study, Shelby County is the healthiest.  Montgomery County is ranked 26th.

To see the list of county rankings, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org.

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